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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 April 10 - 16  > Labeling of health-benefits foods modeled on US law
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2024 April 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Labeling of health-benefits foods modeled on US law

April 12, 2024

Akahata ‘current’ column

“Are you scolding us because we asked the government for easing the rules on food labeling in the past?” Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chair Tokura Masakazu in an irritated tone said to a reporter who confronted Japan’s most powerful business lobby with the fact that Keidanren had repeatedly demanded relaxation of regulations on functional foods such as supplements.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s supplement containing “beni-koji” or red yeast rice malt, which is causing serious health problems, was prominently labeled as “lowering bad cholesterol levels” on the package. In Japan, makers are free to label what health benefits their food products have. The second Abe government introduced this system in 2015.

As a model for the system, the government used the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA). In the United States, the enactment of this law expanded the health food market by four times. Hoping that the market in Japan would expand as well, Keidanren repeatedly demanded the lifting of the restrictions on food products with functional claims. The Japanese Communist Party, consumer groups, and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations opposed the deregulation, arguing that it would neglect food safety.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, Keidanren Chair Tokura in his defense said, “Since it was a matter of people’s health, we should have been a little more careful.”

The Analects of Confucius teaches, “Not changing after making a mistake, this is called a mistake.” Food safety and people’s health must always come before anything else. Any system that fails to do so should be changed immediately.

Past related article:
> JCP Kokuta warned of dangers of ‘functional foods’ 10 years ago [March 31, 2024]
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